It started with carrier bags a few years back and more recently has extended to plastic straws and single-use coffee cups as well as plastic water bottles. After much prevarication consumers and retailers now seem to have the bit between their teeth over the issue of reducing the levels of waste plastic.
Selfridges was on the case before others when it banned single-use plastic water bottles from its stores two years ago and it has just announced that this will be extended to all carbonated drinks sold in these same types of wasteful containers. The expectation is that it will prevent the sale of six tonnes of plastic.
The trajectory of waste reduction in the retail industry now looks to be firmly on the upwards judging by the momentum that has been garnered in only the past few weeks. Clearly the removal of single-use drinking vessels is merely one tiny component of what can be done. But change is happening.
It’s a fact that packaging of all descriptions is being used wastefully within the retail industry and it has been the mission of the likes of Unpackaged to spread the message about the value of people using their own containers when buying foods. It has developed a retail offering for independent stores and farm shops whereby rows of dispensers are used to fill shoppers’ containers with raw and ambient foodstuffs.
The reuse mentality of people taking their own containers to stores – in the same way as they now take their own carrier bags – is gaining some traction in the industry and major supermarkets are now investigating how they can increasingly adopt such methods in their stores. The bag-for-life might be soon joined by the cereal-jar-for-life and other similar vessels.
It is not long ago that a trial was undertaken to replace the tin containers that are used to hold chocolates selections at Christmas – such as Roses and Quality Street – with recyclable cardboard. It failed because consumers did not deem the product to have the same value when compared with the tin version.
Consumer mindsets have shifted to such an extent that I believe a similar trial today would be very much embraced by mainstream shoppers who recognise that a more sustainable holistic view needs to be taken and they expect retailers to be thinking this same way too.
Glynn Davis, editor of Retail Insider
K3 Retail partners with businesses to provide connected technologies based on Microsoft Dynamics 365 so retailers can reach their goals now and in the future. In a size that best fits future plans wherever you need it – Cloud, Hybrid or On-premise. Our solutions drive more than 800 international retail brands from Charles Tyrwhitt and The White Company to Ryman and Sue Ryder, Hobbycraft, Wasabi and Ted Baker, K3 Retail is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner and the UK’s leading Microsoft Dynamics retail partner.